Intimate partner violence (IPV) is poorly understood by the general public, who when confronted with stories of survivors commonly ask, “why didn’t she just leave?” Even the family violence response system fails to appreciate the complexity of the situation for IPV survivors.
This project will use an economic model that hypothesises relatable answers to that question and tests their importance empirically. The research will first describe how common abusive behaviours are in mothers’ relationships in each survey wave. It will then quantify the probability a mother in a relationship involving abuse in one survey wave is able to escape the relationship by the next wave. Next, it will test the economic, social, and psychological factors that predict relationships becoming abusive and predict survivors of IPV and their children being able to escape their abuse.
This will inform both early interventions to prevent IPV developing and initiatives that aim to lower the barriers for survivors and their children to escape from IPV.
We will characterise mothers at the time of each survey as being a) not in a relationship, b) in a safe relationship (ie without IPV), or c) in a physically and/or emotionally abusive relationship. Between survey waves, relationships can shift between being safe and abusive and mothers can move between relationships.
We will first describe the dynamics of mothers’ movements between these states between survey waves. We will then use the longitudinal nature of the data to investigate the risk factors that make currently being in a relationship with IPV or experiencing IPV in the future more likely, and the protective factors that make these less likely. We will also examine, for those currently in a relationship with IPV, the factors that predict exiting the relationship or experiencing a decrease or elimination of IPV within the relationship.
This research has been approved for funding from the Children and Families Research Fund.